Electrons Affect Our Lives

Electrons Affect Our Lives

Everyone has heard of something called an electron. As a science teacher, it always interested me to see how little my students understood about what electrons are, what they do, and how electrons affect our lives.

The story of the electron started early in human history when the ancient Greeks found that if they rubbed fur on amber, the amber attracted things. It wasn’t until the 1800s that people began to understand the electron as we know it today. It was only in 1897 that J.J. Thompson discovered the particle itself.

The design of the electron is amazing. Science is just beginning to understand what charge is, but it is easy to show that there are two kinds of charges. They are negative and positive, and when they are combined, they neutralize each other. The electron carries a negative charge. (The proton has a positive charge and has about 1836 times the mass of an electron, but we will look at protons tomorrow.)

The electron has spin properties and behaves like a tiny magnet due to the spin. In atoms, electrons are paired so that the north pole of one electron is matched with the south pole of another electron. This allows the reactions we know about in chemistry. When an electron is accelerated, it radiates or absorbs energy, depending on whether it is speeding up or slowing down. These factors are the basis of much of our modern world of technology and are the reason electrons affect our lives so much today.

Beta particles can be released in nuclear reactions. Beta particles can be either electrons or antielectrons known as positrons. If an electron beta particle collides with a positive antielectron beta particle, they annihilate each other. The result produces gamma rays – a high energy form of light.

Science is still trying to understand how these particles are created. We are beginning to understand what causes charge, but the answer to the origin questions is what the field of quantum mechanics is about. The normal laws of the physical world have to be discarded, and new rules understood to investigate the tiny world of nuclear physics. It is an exciting time to be alive as science opens up new horizons, and electrons affect our lives in new ways.

All of this reminds us of the intelligence and creative genius of God. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Seeking Peace in THC, Alcohol, and other Drugs

Seeking Peace in THC, Alcohol, and other Drugs

As our culture drifts farther from God, drugs become a substitute for spirituality. The drug receiving the most attention at the start of 2020 is marijuana. The compound in marijuana that causes users to get high is THC. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs does not fill the spiritual void.

The United States farm bill passed in 2018 mandated that plants containing less than .3% THC would be considered hemp. Those plants containing more than .3% would be regarded as marijuana, which remains, for the moment, an illegal, controlled substance. People now use cannabidiol (CBD) in a wide range of products, including pain medications, stress relievers, and sleep enhancers. THC is also found inadvertently in some products, and there is no way to tell the difference between THC in CBD oil and in recreational marijuana.

In random drug testing, THC may show up even if the subject only used a CBD oil. If the employer has a policy of firing anyone who tests positive for THC, that person would be dismissed. USA Today (January 21, 2020, Section B 1) carried a story about a school bus driver in Salt Lake City who was fired because she tested positive for THC. She had used CBD to help her sleep and to relieve stress.

Research may lead to some beneficial applications of THC, when used carefully and in a controlled way. The massive demand for cannabidiol products and the pressure to make recreational marijuana legal is an indication of the unhappiness and misery that people in our culture are experiencing. When we were traveling in Ireland several years ago, our guide commented on how unhappy people are there as alcohol has replaced faith in God. The same thing is happening in America today. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs is no substitute for God, but massive numbers of people have turned to these faith substitutes. A brief “high” is no substitute for lasting, faithful joyfulness.

The Bible is full of references to the desire God has for us to experience joy and happiness. The Psalms encouraged followers of God to be joyful. (See Psalms 5:11, 63:5, and 149:5-6.) In Luke 10:17, when the disciples found they had the power to help people, they “returned with joy.” In John 16:20-24, Jesus talks about finding “joy that no man can take from you.” In Romans 15:13, Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Galatians 5:22 tells us that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

People look for peace, joy, happiness, and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs is not a long-term solution. The fact that I can be content, at peace, and able to find joy and beauty in spite of the massive problems I have experienced, builds my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. No drug high of any kind gives the lasting contentment that I find in my relationship with Christ. I have looked in both places, and the evidence is clear.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Special Olympics and the Race of Life

Special Olympics and the Race of Life

As the parent of a special needs child, I have been a part of the Special Olympics for many years. Even though my child is too disabled to participate anymore, I sometimes attend just to watch the events. I especially like the races, and two of them stick out in my memory. They remind me of the race of life.

The first was a hurdles competition. Five runners had 100 yards of hurdles to navigate. The gun went off, and the racers all cleared the first four hurdles. They were pretty close together when one of them caught his foot on a hurdle and went down. He hit pretty hard, and immediately the other four racers stopped and ran back to him. They helped him up, hugged him, and then they all continued the race.

My other memory was a long-distance run with six runners who had quite varied abilities. One of the boys was much slower than the others, and they all lapped him. When they got to the finish line, they all “high-fived” one another. While they were doing that, the slow runner went by for his last lap. The other five runners moved toward the finish line, and as the slow boy came around the final curve, they began cheering. The crowd went nuts as he crossed the finish line.

The message in these two stories is so “Christian” in nature. Paul talked about “the race”` many times. In Hebrews 12:1, he said, “..let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, he uses the race as a picture of life. In 2 Timothy 4:7, he says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race…”

Paul doesn’t say he won the race. He says he finished it. When I fall going over a hurdle of life, I need my brothers and sisters in the faith to help me get back on my feet so we can all finish the race. I do need to finish the race, and while I am not the strongest or the fastest, God has given me the ability to finish the race of life. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul wrote, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only but to all those who love his appearing.”

My special needs child and his friends in the Special Olympics have a better understanding of this than many of our theologians.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can learn more about Special Olympics HERE.

Psalms 22 – Inspiration or Coincidence?

Psalms 22 and the Crucifixion

One of the convincing arguments for the inspiration of the Bible is the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus that were fulfilled hundreds of years later. We see that evidenced in parallels between statements in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Psalms 22 is an example of this. Consider these statements:

STATEMENT FROM THE CROSS-

Psalms 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

ATTITUDES AND WORDS OF THOSE WHO WITNESSED THE CRUCIFIXION-

Psalms 22:7, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.”

Luke 23:10-39 describes those who mocked Christ: the religious leaders, the soldiers, and one of the criminals. Matthew 27:39-40 tells about the crowd mocking him.

Psalms 22:8, “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Matthew 27:43, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him.”

DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CRUCIFIXION-

Psalms 22:16, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

John 19:15-18 describes the crucifixion in the same way, and we know that in crucifixion, the Roman soldiers drove nails through the wrists and feet of the victim.

Psalms 22:17, “I can count my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

John 19:31-33 describes how the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to have Jesus’ legs broken to ensure his death. They didn’t do it because he was already dead, and they pierced his side to prove it. Zechariah 12:10 and Isaiah 53:5 predict the piercing of Jesus.

Psalms 22:18, “They divide my garments among them casting lots for my clothing.”

Matthew 27:35, “When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

No one contests the date of Psalms 22. It was not written after Jesus died. Some of these things, such as the actions of the Roman soldiers, were certainly not controlled by the early Christians or by Christ. How did the Psalmist get the facts right a thousand years before Christ? This is an apologetic for the validity of the Bible as God-given and not the work of humans.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Salt and Water Chemical Bonds and Life

Salt and Water Chemical Bonds and Life

We see a correlation between salt and water chemical bonds and life. One of the first things students learn in chemistry class is that elements bond to form compounds in two different ways. One is called “covalent,” and the other is called “ionic.”

In an ionic bond, two elements transfer an electron. An excellent example of ionic bonding is sodium chloride, common table salt. The sodium in salt has a loosely-held electron in its last orbital. Chlorine, on the other hand, needs an electron, because its last orbital is one electron short of the most stable configuration. When sodium and chlorine combine, the sodium gives up its last electron, and the chlorine absorbs it.

A classic example of a covalent bond is water. Hydrogen needs an electron to produce the most stable possible form of the hydrogen atom. Oxygen needs two electrons to give it the most stable arrangement. Oxygen can share two of its electrons with two hydrogen atoms. The result is that two hydrogen atoms are attached to the one oxygen atom, producing water.

Water and salt are very different kinds of compounds. Water is tough to break apart into its component atoms. Salt is very easy to break apart. Just dumping salt into water will tear the salt molecule apart into sodium and chlorine. The design of these atoms is amazing. The salt molecule is polar because only two atoms are involved. The water molecule is also polar because of the location of the two electrons that are shared with the hydrogen. An electron by itself is not stable. The spin of the electrons and their magnetic properties require pairing to be stable, and that pairing forms compounds such as water and salt.

In teaching high school chemistry, I would use boy-girl relationships to help kids understand chemical bonding. The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:18 that God said, “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” Verse 24 says, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” All of life reaches stability in a shared relationship. Just as water is more stable than salt, so too humans who are in a committed relationship of oneness and sharing are more stable than when isolated and alone. The same Designer of salt and water chemical bonds gave us each other for the best of life.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Scientism, Literalistic, Literal

Scientism, Literalistic, Literal -Definitions

As you read articles written by creationists, atheists, and apologetics authors, you sometimes see words that need an explanation. We must understand the meaning of the terms and what the author intends to convey. There are three words that you should understand the meaning of: Scientism, Literalistic, Literal.

#1 SCIENTISM. Scientism is the idea that science is the only reliable way to determine truth. It is used to exclude any consideration of the supernatural or metaphysical. Because they can not be falsified, scientism rejects miracles or claims about the divinity of Christ. Those of us who argue that science and faith support each other are sometimes accused of preaching scientism. The fact is that the scientific method prevents any consideration of many questions that are important in life. The Winter 2020 issue of God and Nature published an article by Terry Defoe titled “A Pastor’s Journey in Search of Consensus.” He wrote that, “Science can be compared to a fisherman’s net that can’t catch small fish because the holes in the net are too large.” Science is NOT the only source of truth.

#2 LITERALISM. Literalism is the approach of reading ancient documents and merely reading the words on the page in their most basic sense, not considering the context. Long ago, Augustine warned against Christians presenting their literalistic interpretations of Scripture as if they were experts in areas where they are ignorant.

“The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.” Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) (Read more HERE.)

In literalism, there is no attempt to ask what the author intended his message to be, or to apply modern knowledge in understanding the documents.

#3 LITERAL. Literal means to understand a text as the original author intended. Here is an example of how a literal interpretation of a passage might differ from a literalistic interpretation. In Revelation 7:1, John writes, “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth …” If you just lift the passage off the page (literalistic), you would maintain that Earth has four corners, and therefore it is flat. Some groups actually support that view and use this passage to prove it. A literal translation would ask, “What is John attempting to say?” If you look at the context of the passage, the answer is obvious. We have a Lamb opening seals and displaying wrath in chapter 6 and 144,000 people sealed in chapter seven. Obviously, the passage is not written to give scientific data on the shape of the Earth.

We maintain that this ministry takes the Bible literally. Much of the Christian community takes selected passages such as Genesis 1 literalistically. The result is they present the Bible in a way that makes it look foolish and ignorant. Scientism is not our approach. We use all of the tools God has given us to understand His Word. That approach is essential when talking to young men and women growing up in the 21st century. One of the tools we use is science, and that is not Scientism.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Alternatives to Abortion

Alternatives to Abortion are Available

As we enter an election year, the issue of abortion once again rises to the attention of politicians, women’s rights activists, Christians, religious fundamentalists, and the medical establishment. The issue is complicated, but we must not overlook the alternatives to abortion.

We can understand the rhetoric that a woman should have control of her own body. But from a scientific standpoint, there is no question–a baby is NOT just an extension of the mother’s body. Morning sickness is the body’s reaction to an invasive foreign object that has entered the woman’s body. When the sperm meets the egg, a unique individual is produced. It is not a dog or a cat or something unknown–it is a human. Mountains of evidence exist that show the baby does human things long before birth. The preborn child hears, feels, reacts, and responds to outside influences on its environment.

Do we, as a culture, wish to sanction infanticide? Is a baby better off dead than born to a mother who doesn’t want it? Is infanticide a slippery slope to horrible misuse–harvesting organs or paying for organs from a baby not yet conceived? These questions are complicated, and in an election year, inflammatory literature abounds on all sides. Working together to provide alternatives to abortion can help to settle this issue. Here are three points to consider:

*Easy abortion as a method for birth control is foolish. Abortion does physiological and psychological damage to most women. Repeated abortions can lead to serious health problems even when the abortion is done in an ideal environment by competent doctors.

*Reproductive healthcare is needed for all women, and abortion is not the sum total of that care. This healthcare can and should include modern contraception methods, moral teaching about sexual relationships, prenatal care, family planning, and options about alternatives to abortion. Adoption is an option that is used far too infrequently. Abortion should not be the first or only choice given to women.

*World population growth is also an issue. Every day the world population grows by 225,000, adding up to 82 million per year. God has told us to “take care of the garden, dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). He also gave us the family as the proper vehicle to populate the Earth. Dumping unwanted children into the world without family, love, care, or the physical things they need to survive violates God’s commands (James 1:27). However, abortion (infanticide) is a poor alternative to education and moral teaching.


We need to join hands and work for alternatives to abortion and solutions to this issue on this 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the US Supreme Court.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

A footnote from Roland Earnst: An organization that is doing a great job in providing abortion alternatives and helping families is LifePlan of Niles, Michigan. You can visit their website HERE.

What Is Wrong With…?

What Is Wrong With...?

We get a lot of questions that contain the phrase, “what is wrong with?” The idea seems to be that there is a religious issue involved in the social practices of today, but many people don’t understand what it is. Parents have asked me to tell them how to explain to their child that tattoos are biblically wrong. Others have written that being overweight is a sin and that eating foods that are not healthy is biblically wrong. Another question involves whether the Bible condemns vaping. The use of alcohol has been an issue for a very long time.

The current mantra of our culture is, “What I do with my body is up to me. What is wrong with…?” The Apostle Paul wrote something about that:

“Do you not know that you are God’s sanctuary, and that God’s Spirit has his home in you? If anyone desecrates the temple of God, God will bring him to ruin. For the temple of God is sacred, and that is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

When we use the Bible to decide a moral or religious issue, it is essential to look at the context of the passage. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 3 to a congregation of people whom he says are carnal, not spiritual (Verses 1-3). Verse 9 finds Paul telling these carnal people that as Christians, they should be fellow-workers with God and that Christ must be their foundation (verse 11). What is wrong with the way they were acting? Paul’s chief complaint with the Christians in Corinth is that their carnal nature has produced a power struggle (verses 3-8).

The message here is spiritual, not physical. Paul is not saying that if you vape, God will send cancer to destroy you. God’s message and outreach to a lost world come through His workers here on Earth. In Acts 2:38, Peter promised God’s Spirit to Christians. Engaging in things that defeat God’s outreach to others can cause them to be lost. We need to take care of our bodies and do so in a way that enables us to be God’s workers to reach others.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8 that we sin against others when we do something or eat something that causes them to be lost. I can’t be the influence that God calls me to be if I am immersed in the excesses of the culture in which I live. How I dress, what I eat or drink, and what I do is essential to my witness. I implore Christians to avoid vaping or drinking alcohol or eating unwisely for that reason.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Making Molecules on Jupiter

Making Molecules on Jupiter

In recent years we have come to understand how God formed many of the elements that make up our world and our bodies. We watch stars producing new elements, and we realize that this system was designed by God to take the hydrogen produced in the beginning and continually make heavier elements by thermonuclear fusion. It is incredible to witness the power and design in a nova or supernova and to understand that this is God’s forge to make new elements. Now we have another picture of a design God has used for making molecules.

Molecules are combinations of atoms put together to produce a compound. Simple compounds like water and methane are difficult enough to produce. The huge molecules, such as amino acids that make up living materials, require a particular environment to form. Many of them have been found in space debris, but their origins are not clear.

The latest NASA report on Jupiter has given us some new understanding of making molecules. NASA’s robotic Juno spacecraft orbits only 15,000 kilometers above Jupiter’s cloud tops. Using new data from this spacecraft, astronomers have announced that Jupiter is apparently mostly liquid. It is not a ball of rock with a blanket of liquids and gases, as Earth-based observations seemed to indicate.

It’s hard to realize the size of Jupiter (2.5 times the mass of all other planets combined), its rapid spin rate (more than twice as fast as Earth’s), the amount of lightning that we observe, and the extreme temperatures are all working in a liquid. It indicates an environment similar to what we can create in our laboratories here on Earth to produce complex molecules. The Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 earned a Nobel prize for producing an environment in the lab capable of making molecules of amino acids. Now we see a location in space that duplicates much of Stanley Miller’s famous experiment. To be facetious, perhaps God should get a Nobel Prize for something that was operational long before any human existed.

The more we know of the creation, the closer we get to the Creator. Knowing His methods just increases our wonder at His power and wisdom.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from apod.nasa.gov. January 6, 2020.

Where Are the Christians?

Where Are the Christians?

We sometimes hear people say that America is a “Christian Nation.” That statement today is wrong in several ways. The facts show that only 9% of all people in the world who call themselves “Christians” live in North America (the U.S. and Canada). So, where are the Christians?

The home of 51% of the world’s Christians is in Africa and Latin America. Africa alone has 26%. The report shows that 23% live in Europe, 16% in Asia, and 1% in Oceania. Realize that these numbers only tell us people who claim the religious identity of “Christian.” That doesn’t mean a person attends any worship services.

When we correspond with our friends in Africa and South America, we find them talking about the stabilizing influence of Christ. They say that things are improving in their nations because of Christianity. As we look around in America, we see increasing violence and instability. Does anyone want to suggest a reason for that? Where are the Christians?

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from The Center for the Study of Global Christianity reported in Christianity Today, January/February 2020, page 25.